What issues matter to new teachers?
Lot’s of them. Here’s a few big ones that we (teachers and the United Federation of Teachers, our union) can seize:
Schools. Where to work. We should tell them the opposite – where not to work. How about posting a list of schools that destroy, burn out, and throw away new teachers every year? (Responsibility: Central, website, New York Teacher newspaper)
- Make a list of schools not to apply to.
- Continue providing help/info on certification and pay.
- Combat bad treatment of Fellows by the NYCTF.
- Give new teachers lessons.
- Stand up to administrators who treat fellows badly; start with scheduling issues.
- Send a positive message, from all of us, that Fellows are part of our chapters and our union, and that we want to keep more of them teaching for longer.
Certification/Pay. We already do a lot of work. New teachers call for help all the time. (Responsibility: borough offices; central)
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Teaching Fellows. The NYCTF treats its Fellows lousy. (poor information. Scheduling. Threatening to drop them. Weird mentoring stuff.) We should step up and intervene immediately, even where we can’t win. The NYCTF is private, but it functions as an autonomous arm of the DoE. We should be there, letting the new Fellows know that there are two sides, and that they are on ours. This sort of information, to the extent possible, should be communicated through the chapters, so that our ‘common side’ has a face. (Responsibility: Central, borough offices (newsletters), chapters)
Lessons. Lesson writing as a new teacher sucks. I am, both the activity (for many of us it takes forever), and the product (I write better lessons in 5-10 minutes today than I did in 2 hours 10 years ago. I’m guessing that’s true for most of us). So, and this should go for all teachers, give them lessons. When they want to write their own, fine. But let them decide when they are ready. For now, just hand them over. Give them a book to copy from. The administrators should, right? But in how many schools do they? (Responsibility: Chapter, members, The New York Teacher newspaper)
Scheduling. Teaching Fellows are often abusively scheduled. Four in a rows. Preference sheets ignored. Over-scheduled. No lunch, or assigned work during lunch. Mandatory per session on weekends or after school or in the summer. Fellows (and any new teacher) may be unaware of the abuse, or, untenured, may choose to remain quiet. The chapter needs to watch for this, and the chapter leader needs to address the abuse, even if the new teachers/fellows are afraid. Read the schedule, search out the problems, address them. Stand up for those too new, weak, or scared to stand up for themselves. (Responsibility: Chapter Leader, chapter)
Inclusion. No, not inclusion classes. Include the new teachers in the chapter. Make them feel welcome.
Message. These may be my words, but they are correct, and we should all adopt at least the spirit:
- While we’re teachers we should stick together – you’re a teacher – you’re one of us.
- The union protects us. In this building, the union is us.
- We, all of us, need to do what we can, even if it’s only showing up, to make the union better.
- We need experienced teachers, among other things, to help new teachers. We hope you stay and become an experienced teacher.
(Responsibility: all of us)
Follow up: what schools should be on the Don’t Go There list?